Hip hype hooray
The Stone Roses
If one is to dismiss bands based upon hype alone, there are dozens of lesser, more popular bands worth ignoring; andif one is to loathe a band because of its arrogance (recorded a song called "I Want to be Adored," named follow-up Second Coming), history is replete with famous artists whose egos outstripped their talent. Rather, if one is to brush off the Stone Roses six long years after their brief brush with instant success, do it on the product alone--a record that sounds trapped in a time warp, a technofolkie throwback that recalls the first round of Manchester bands who, momentarily, brought the sound of Brit Invasion-era pop (Kinks, Dave Clark Five) to "new-rock" radio. Remember: Jesus Jones once was popular, too.
Since their debut six long years ago and the subsequent silence (created, in part, by a lawsuit with their record company and a perfectionist tendency), the Stone Roses have become an almost mythic creation of a English rock press that has cast them in a shroud of rumor and innuendo. In America, though, they have become a forgotten one-hit wonder, replaced by the umpteenth round of the Punk Rock Revolution and Kurt Cobain and Pearl Jam and Pavement and Veruca Salt and whatever else matters tomorrow.
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Revisiting the Stone Roses in 1995--listening to the uninspired regurgitation of cliches (sample, um, lyric: "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned") and '60s American folk-rock guitar solos ("Good Times") and Beatles-Zeppelin-Stones structures ("Tears," "How Do You Sleep") and sampled sounds (trickling water)--is to be reminded that this is just another band most of the time, as brilliantly mediocre as when first heard. And it is to discover that music can be, at times, imaginative and banal all at once.
A wise man
In By Of
Bar None Records
Wiseman--the former manic soul behind Blue Rodeo, and the man with whom Edie Brickell recorded an album Geffen rejected--is Freedy Johnston (or Austin's Ed Hamell) with a jazz bent and the soul of a punk. He's given to wild, cacophonous bursts of noise and lovely, soft moments, unwilling to make the distinction between such disparities. To listen to In By Of, a collection from his three Canadian releases, is to be drawn into one man's tiny world as he recounts intimate tales of childhood alienation and unrequited love and anti-Semitism. In the end, you only care because he makes you want to.